|Murdered Indian Intellectuals Since 2014: Narendra Dabholkar, M.M. Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh and Govind Pansare. |
Photos: The Hindu, PTI
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#India’s #Modi Criticized for Following Twitter Feed Tied to Nasty Post. #GauriLankeshMurder #BJP #Trolls
NEW DELHI — What are the ethics in choosing whom to follow on Twitter? Do influential people — say, a head of state — have a higher responsibility not to follow people who post hateful tweets?
That is the debate now in India after it was discovered that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a hugely popular but divisive figure, was following the Twitter feed of a man who wrote the following this week, after a female journalist was shot to death: “One bitch dies a dog’s death all the puppies cry in the same tune.”
Many Indians were bothered by that message, then doubly disturbed to learn that the writer, Nikhil Dadhich, a prolific tweeter who describes himself as a “Hindu nationalist,” was among the 1,779 accounts their prime minister was following.
“The prime minister shouldn’t be doing that. He’s giving legitimacy to filth,” said Sai Krishna, a medical student in southern India who heard about the nasty message after the journalist, Gauri Lankesh, was killed Tuesday. The police have few leads, but many analysts said they believed the killing was an assassination.
Mrs. Lankesh was a provocative intellectual who criticized many politicians and religious leaders. The way she was killed — gunned down outside her house by a mysterious assailant — was eerily similar to how several other critics of the Hindu nationalist agenda of the Modi government have been silenced.
His political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (commonly referred to as the B.J.P.), is frequently accused of operating what detractors call a troll army — a group of bloggers who quickly swarm online anyone seen as critical of the party. Mr. Modi is following some of these people and in doing so, Mr. Krishna, the medical student, said, was acting “like a passive troll.”
Some of the accounts Mr. Modi follows on Twitter have made misogynistic comments, spread anti-Muslim feelings and dangerous rumors, or made remarks that do not always jibe with his message of tolerance. One account he follows suggested dropping an atomic bomb on Pakistan. The same account called a prominent female journalist a prostitute.
”What is the compelling need to follow these people?” asked Swati Chaturvedi, the author of, “I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army.” “Most of them boast in their bio saying, ‘Blessed to be followed by PM Modi,’ which is essentially like a license and a liberty to say what they want to.”
Mr. Modi’s party fired back, saying that he followed Indian opposition leaders, that just because he followed certain people did not mean he agreed with them, and that he had more pressing matters than arguing over whom he followed on Twitter and why.
Yes, India has it's problems but let's put things in proper context. In the Freedom of Press Index, Pakistan still ranks below India by a few notches.
Arundhati Roy on #India #BJP #Modi bigotry, brutality #Hindutva politics #GauriLankesh #Islamophobia #Kashmir. http://www.dw.com/en/arundhati-roy-india-is-colonizing-itself/a-40447155 …
Described as the "conscience of India" in Time's 2014 list of 100 most influential people, author Arundhati Roy has a voice that counts. Speaking in Berlin, she introduced her long-awaited second work of fiction.
(Arundhati) Roy's novel ( "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,") portrays many atrocities, and some reviewers were repelled by that. But a tragic event just days before her appearance in Berlin drove home the fine line between fiction and reality in India. Roy recalled with grief how her friend Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper editor and outspoken critic of the ruling Hindu nationalist party — a writer with similar views to Roy — was shot dead in Bangalore by unknown assailants.
"People are being lynched every day," Roy said. A person can be accused of having consumed beef, for example, and suddenly be surrounded by a dangerous mob. "If these things are not pushed back, we lose everything," she said.
Roy believes boundless hate is dividing the country under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, with emotions being stirred up by fake news and internet trolls. "The situation for me and other intellectuals is so dangerous now."
She thinks India is experiencing a kind of civil war, all the while presenting itself on the world stage as an economic superpower. "But India is colonizing itself. The army and paramilitary organizations are waging war against the poorest," she said.
At the end of the evening, the audience looked a bit shocked. The violence and divisions in present-day India don't seem to have been on the radar for many. But the mood lightens when an excerpt about love was read from Roy's new book. It is a novel, after all.
How do you compare Arundhati with Dr. Hoodbhoy and Husain Haqqani. thanks.
RK: "How do you compare Arundhati with Dr. Hoodbhoy and Husain Haqqani. thanks."
I see some similarities between Arundhati Roy and Pervez Hoodbhoy. They are both staunch liberal critics of their societies and countries' policies. The difference between them is that Hoodbhoy hardly ever criticizes the policies of the West while Arundhati does so frequently.
Husain Haqqani, on the other hand, has no convictions of his own. He's essentially an opportunist who has been with left, right and center of the political spectrum in Pakistan at different times. And now he's serving his foreign masters and their think tanks in Washington. You can read my views of him here:
#Indian musician AR Rahman asked to go to #Pakistan for his comment on #GauriLankeshMurdered #BJP http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/ar-rahman-asked-to-go-to-pakistan-for-his-comment-on-gauri-lankesh-murder-4837070/ … via @IndianExpress
When AR Rahman expressed his opinion on the murder of Benguluru based journalist Gauri Lankesh and said that is not his India, he was trolled on social media and asked to go to Pakistan. One Twitter user said AR Rahman showed his true colours and that India gave him fame and status.
In the current climate, it is dangerous for a public figure to voice an opinion. No matter what they say, there are always thousands of people who disagree with them. This disagreement turns into vile abuse and unlimited trolling on social media due to the anonymity the platforms provide. When ace music composer AR Rahman was asked what he thought of the cold-blooded murder of Bengaluru based journalist Gauri Lankesh at the premiere of his upcoming film One Heart: The AR Rahman Concert Film, he answered, ” If these things happen in India, then it is not my India. I want my India to be progressive and kind.”
The answer ended up evoking varied response from Twitterati and some of them were vile and nothing could justify the trolling that followed. Rahman was trolled right, left and centre on Facebook and Twitter. As it goes with Muslims taking a stand in a public domain, Rahman was asked to go to Pakistan in no time. One Twitter user did not even take the name of the country he was asking Rahman to go to. He merely insinuated and said, “Then go to your Country!!”
One other said that Rahman had started showing his true colours after all, “Till yesterday it was ur India which gave u fame and status. now one murder and its not ur India.cheapster.dats ur true color.”
May be Pakistan is the only exception. However, everywhere else voices are more extreme, racial, vulgar and bigoted on social media. Shooting out messages with malice seems lot easier, comfortable and without fear of repurcussions on the internet. That's a trend that's bound to get worse, my friend!
#India: Assassinating Dissent. #gaurilankeshmurder #Modi #Hindutva http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/09/15/india-assassinating-dissent/ … via @nybooks
Gauri Lankesh was the editor of a weekly tabloid published in Kannada, the main language of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. She was murdered on the fifth of September at the gate of her house in Bangalore, shot in the head and chest at close range. Her killers got away on motorcycles. This gangland-style assassination of a journalist would have made a stir in any case, but coming as it did after a series of political murders, it resonated across India and beyond its borders.
From the moment she died, the press reported her death not as an individual event but as the fourth in a sequence of assassinations; to the names Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and M.M. Kalburgi, journalists now added Gauri Lankesh. Politically they were all left-leaning, strongly rationalist, hostile to Hindu orthodoxy, and convinced that right-wing majoritarianism was the mortal enemy of republican democracy. They were also public intellectuals who chose to write in their mother tongues: Dabholkar and Pansare wrote in Marathi, Kalburgi and Lankesh in Kannada. They spoke to a vernacular readership beyond the reach of the country’s English media, with its pan-Indian but paper-thin Anglophone audience. Each of them was shot dead by men on motorcycles with homemade pistols who got away.
India has always been a dangerous place for journalists. The Hindi journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati, who in 2002 first published the anonymous letter accusing Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the recently jailed cult leader, of rape, was shot and killed weeks after his story ran. More than thirty journalists have been killed in the state of Assam in the last thirty years. In the newly created state of Jharkhand, with its mining mafias, being a journalist is a conspicuously dangerous business: four journalists have died there since 2000 and no one has been convicted of their murders. Malini Subramaniam, a freelance journalist, was hounded out of Bastar in the state of Chhatisgarh by a vigilante group acting in concert with the local police because her reports on the Maoist insurgency didn’t fit the government’s counterinsurgency narrative. In Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian state, a scandal about corruption in a government-administered examination board was dwarfed by the horror of its aftermath: nearly forty people associated with the scandal as culprits or witnesses died seemingly unnatural deaths, and in 2015, a journalist investigating the case the case died in mysterious circumstances.
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